Dynamic microphones have stood the test of time for their robustness, affordability, and adept handling of loud sound sources, making them ideal for live performances and certain recording scenarios.
In this blog post, I'll take a deep dive into the top 10 dynamic microphones currently on the market, according to industry experts.
- 1. Shure SM7B: Best Dynamic Mic Overall
- 2. Shure SM58: Best For Live Vocals & Performing
- 3. Sennheiser e945: Best For Vocalists
- 4. Rode PodMic: Best Dynamic Microphone For Podcasters (Hands Down!)
- 5. Shure SM57: Best For Recording Both Vocals & Instruments
- 6. Electro-Voice RE20: Best For Narration & Voiceovers
- 7. AKG D5
- 8. Heil PR-40:
- 9. Audio-Technica PRO35:
- 10. Royer R-121:
1. Shure SM7B: Best Dynamic Mic Overall
The Shure SM7B, a distinguished dynamic microphone, is adored by experts for its silky, rich tonality and commendable capacity to sideline unwanted ambient noise. Here's a deep dive into why the Shure SM7B commands such respect in the audio industry.
Primarily, the Shure SM7B flaunts a cardioid polar pattern - this essentially means it's expert at focusing on the sound directly in front of the mic while disregarding any side and rear noises.
This characteristic makes it the go-to choice for capturing isolated performances or dialogues, free of intrusive noise.
What truly sets this microphone on a pedestal is its smooth, broad frequency response that seamlessly caters to both music and speech.
Irrespective of whether you're a musician recording an instrumental piece or a talk show host airing a stimulating discussion, the SM7B ensures a consistent and top-notch audio output.
The SM7B thrives on customization. With its bass roll-off and presence boost controls, you have the liberty to adjust the microphone's response to align with your specific needs.
Regarding electromagnetic hum shielding - typically emanating from computer screens or neon lights - the SM7B stands firm. It effectively combats these disturbances, ensuring a clear, pristine recording.
The SM7B also provides a standard windscreen and a specially designed A7WS windscreen for close-talk scenarios.
And, the microphone incorporates an internal air suspension shock isolation system to eradicate mechanical noise, thus providing your audio with a professional finesse.
A point to bear in mind is that the SM7B, owing to its need for higher gain, may outstrip standard entry-level or mid-tier preamps. It is thus advised to partner it with an external preamp to truly unlock the microphone's full potential.
Podcasters, announcers, and singers frequently opt for the Shure SM7B for its exceptional speech clarity and superior off-axis noise rejection.
Moreover, it's a preferred tool in professional circles like broadcasting, voiceovers, ADR, and critical studio recordings.
In essence, the Shure SM7B is a versatile powerhouse, adept at managing a broad array of audio tasks with grace and precision.
2. Shure SM58: Best For Live Vocals & Performing
Shure PGXD24/SM58-X8 Digital Handheld Wireless System with SM58 Vocal Microphone
What We Like
- The PGXD2 transmitter features automatic setup, a multi-function LED Indicator, and provides you with 8 hours of continuous use on 2 AA batteries. It gives you and your microphone a generous 200' (60m) operating range without losing audio quality.
- The PGXD4 receiver offers 24-bit/48kHz accurate sound, offers technology
What We Don't Like
- Frequency response tailored for vocals, making it ideal for live performances and studio recordings
- Cardioid polar pattern that rejects off-axis sound and minimizes unwanted noise
- Brightened midrange and bass roll-off controls that help to control proximity effect and reduce low-frequency noise
- Internal shock mount and pneumatic suspension that reduce handling noise and mechanical vibrations
- Built-in pop filter that reduces plosives and other unwanted sounds
- Durable and reliable construction that can withstand rough handling and frequent use
- Affordable price point that makes it accessible to a wide range of users
- Requires more gain than some entry-level or mid-tier preamplifiers can deliver, so an external preamp may be necessary
- May not be suitable for recording instruments that require a more sensitive microphone, such as acoustic guitars or delicate percussion
- May not be the best choice for recording in a noisy environment due to its cardioid polar pattern
- Some users may find the microphone's sound to be too bright or harsh, especially when used with certain vocalists or instruments
A cousin to the SM7B, the SM58 is widely regarded as the industry standard for live vocals, so if that is what you plan on doing, I will save you the scrolling effort; this is your guy!
The Shure SM58 is a workhorse microphone that's gained legendary status in the world of audio. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, here are key aspects that make this dynamic microphone a go-to choice:
Dynamic Microphone: Designed to withstand the rigors of live use, the Shure SM58 is a dynamic microphone. This means it is inherently rugged, reliable, and feedback-resistant on stage. Unlike condenser microphones, the SM58 doesn't require batteries or phantom power, and is less sensitive - making it the perfect partner for live performances.
Cardioid Polar Pattern: The heart-shaped cardioid pickup pattern of the SM58 makes it a sound isolating pro. It picks up sound predominantly from the front while rejecting off-axis noise, effectively cutting out unwanted stage noise and giving your vocals a chance to shine.
Versatile Recording Mic: Although it's primarily known as a brilliant live microphone, the SM58 also moonlights as a versatile studio recording microphone. From capturing raspy guitar amps to punchy snare drums, and, of course, crystal clear vocals, the SM58's cardioid pattern and volume handling prowess make it a valuable studio asset.
Reliability and Clarity: The Shure SM58 scores high on the affordability chart without compromising on quality. It's celebrated for its clarity, reliability, and friendly price point. So, while it's easy to assume that only expensive microphones can produce good recordings, the SM58 proves you can achieve great results without blowing your budget.
Popular Choice: With a reputation that spans rock concerts to presidential speeches, the Shure SM58 is arguably the most popular dynamic microphone in the world. Its iconic grille and legendary performance make it an industry staple, recognized and respected globally.
Additional Features: The SM58 sports a uniform cardioid polar pattern for sharp note reproduction and background noise reduction. With additional features such as bass roll-off and midrange emphasis controls, you can customize your sound further. Its unparalleled engineering and durability standards have set the bar high in the microphone world.
3. Sennheiser e945: Best For Vocalists
Sennheiser e945 Supercardioid Dynamic Handheld Vocal Microphone with Tripod Microphone Stand & 20' XLR Cable
What We Like
- Consumer Alert: Most users do not need a license to operate this wireless microphone system. Nevertheless, operating this microphone system without a license is subject to certain restrictions: the system may not cause harmful interference; it must operate at a low power level (not in excess of 50
What We Don't Like
- Exceptional sound quality with clear and natural sound.
- Supercardioid pickup pattern effectively isolates the main source from other on-stage sounds.
- Durable construction designed to withstand the rigors of live performances.
- Versatile microphone suitable for vocals and instrument miking.
- Competitive pricing compared to other professional-grade dynamic microphones.
- Rich and smooth response specifically designed for lead vocals.
- Some users may find it slightly overrated compared to other microphones.
- May require additional accessories such as a microphone stand or pop filter, which are not included.
- May not be the best choice for users looking for a microphone with a wider pickup pattern for capturing ambient sounds.
The Sennheiser e945 is a dynamic microphone with superior features, tailored specifically for vocalists and musicians.
Sennheiser e945 stands out for its remarkable sound quality. With a clear, natural, and dynamic audio output, this microphone has been specifically crafted to capture lead vocals with richness and smoothness.
Supercardioid Pickup Pattern
The distinctive supercardioid pickup pattern of the e945 ensures it is highly directional. This quality means it effectively cancels out side noises, which makes it an excellent option for live performances where vocals need to stand out amid the surrounding sound.
Built for Durability
Synonymous with high-quality construction, Sennheiser's e945 microphone is no different. It's designed to handle the demands of live performances and boasts long-lasting durability.
Beyond its primary function for vocals, the e945 exhibits a versatility that extends its use to instrument miking as well. With its wide range and clear tone, this microphone accommodates a variety of musical genres and performance settings.
The Sennheiser e945 dynamic microphone brings competitive pricing to the table, compared with other professional-grade dynamic microphones. It promises superior performance and durability, providing excellent value for the investment.
Ideal User Base
Live Performers: With its supercardioid pickup pattern and noise-reducing ability, the e945 is a great fit for live performers needing clear, standout vocals on stage.
Vocalists: The e945 particularly resonates with vocalists seeking a microphone that delivers their voice with clarity and a natural sound.
Musicians: The e945's versatility makes it a reliable and high-quality microphone choice for musicians who need it for both vocals and instrument miking.
4. Rode PodMic: Best Dynamic Microphone For Podcasters (Hands Down!)
Rode PodMic Dynamic Podcasting Microphone Bundle with 6-Inch Microphone Gooseneck (Black), Adjustable Desk Microphone Stand (Black), and 25-Feet XLR Male to XLR Female Microphone Cable (4 Items)What We Like
What We Don't Like
- Affordable price point
- Neutral and accurate sound quality
- Internal pop filter that works well
- Durable and well-made
- Suitable for speech applications
- May not be as immune to handling noise as some other microphones
- No stand included
- XLR connection may require additional equipment
Making waves in the world of podcasting, the Rode PodMic is a broadcast-quality dynamic microphone. It's tailored for speech and offers a rich, balanced sound. This is a great choice if you're looking to step up your podcasting game.
5. Shure SM57: Best For Recording Both Vocals & Instruments
Shure SM57 Dynamic Instrument Mic - Professional Quality and Versatility for Live Performances and Recording - Contoured Frequency Response, Durable, Ideal for Drums, Percussion, Amplifiers (SM57-LC)
What We Like
- VERSATILE INSTRUMENT RECORDING - The SM57 excels in capturing the true essence of instruments, making it perfect for studio recordings or live performances.
- EXCEPTIONAL DURABILITY - Built like a tank, the SM57 is known for its rugged construction, ensuring it can withstand the demands of any environment.
What We Don't Like
- Durable and solid build quality
- Versatile and can be used for a variety of instruments and recording situations
- Can handle high volume levels without distortion
- Records clear and natural audio
- Great value for the price
- Some users find it to be too bright or harsh sounding
- May require a good preamp to get the best sound quality
- Not ideal for recording vocals
With its legendary status, the Shure SM57 is a highly versatile microphone that you can use for both vocals and instruments. Its ability to handle high sound pressure levels and focus on the main sound source makes it a popular choice in the studio, especially for capturing drums and guitar amplifiers.
6. Electro-Voice RE20: Best For Narration & Voiceovers
Electro-Voice RE20 Microphone Kit with Shockmount, Two-Section Broadcast Arm and Microphone CableWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
- Sound quality: The RE20 is known for its rich and deep sound, making it suitable for broadcasting and voice-over work.
- Background rejection: The variable-D response of the RE20 ensures a uniform sound regardless of how close you are to the microphone, and it offers maximum rejection of background noise.
- Durability: The RE20 is built to last, making it a reliable choice for professional use.
- Value for money: The RE20 is considered an excellent value for its price.
- Bulkiness: The RE20 is a large microphone, which may be a consideration for those looking for a more compact option.
- Price: The RE20 is relatively expensive compared to other dynamic microphones.
A classic microphone often found in broadcast studios, the Electro-Voice RE20 offers a fantastic sound profile that can handle a wide variety of vocals and instruments. Its Variable-D design minimizes the proximity effect, allowing for consistent sound pickup even at varying distances.
7. AKG D5
AKG D5 Vocal Dynamic MicrophoneWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
- Balanced frequency response
- Good value for the money
- Supercardioid pickup pattern for reduced feedback and off-axis sound pickup
- Decent overall sound quality
- May not have as much vocal clarity and low end as some other microphones
- Some users may prefer a different tonal spectrum
This microphone is known for its ability to deliver a powerful sound while maintaining a crisp clarity. The AKG D5's supercardioid pattern ensures maximum gain before feedback, making it perfect for stage performances.
8. Heil PR-40:
Heil PR 40 Dynamic Microphone for Streaming, Podcast, Recording, and Broadcast, XLR Microphone for Live Music, Wide Frequency Response, Smooth Sound, Superior Rear Noise Rejection - Champagne
What We Like
- One Mic for Every Application - Professional podcasters, studio engineers, YouTube streamers, and musicians trust the PR 40 because it delivers high-quality sound in any environment.
- Podcast - The PR 40 naturally captures the human voice and provides studio-quality sound in any environment. This dynamic microphone eliminates the
What We Don't Like
- Low self-noise: The Heil PR-40 is one of the quietest microphones available, with very low self-noise.
- Noise rejection: The microphone has the ability to reject unnecessary noise, making it a good choice for radio DJs and broadcasters.
- Dual functionality: The PR-40 is a dynamic microphone that can produce delicate, balanced sounds, as well as powerful sounds.
- All-rounder: The microphone is a great all-rounder, with enough bass extension for kick drums and bass instruments, and it copes well with high-frequency detail.
- Price: The Heil PR-40 is relatively expensive compared oto.
- Pop filter needed: The microphone needs a pop filter to prevent popping sounds.
- Heavy: The PR-40 is a heavy microphone, which may be a concern for some users.
Another dynamic microphone often used for broadcasting and podcasting, the Heil PR-40 is acclaimed for its full-bodied sound, excellent speech articulation, and professional build quality.
9. Audio-Technica PRO35:
Audio-Technica PRO 35 Cardioid Condenser Clip-on Instrument MicrophoneWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
- High-SPL applications: The PRO35 is designed for high-SPL applications and is ideal for active stage performances.
- Close mic situations: The microphone is designed for close mic situations, making it a good choice for sax, toms, brass, and percussion.
- Compliments voices: The PRO35 can pleasantly compliment both tenor and soprano voices when used with proper stage placement and gain adjustments.
- Cardioid polar pattern: The microphone's cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of the desired sound source.
- Limited use: The PRO35 is designed for specific instruments and may not be suitable for all applications.
- Wired only: The PRO35 is only available as a wired microphone and does not have a wireless option.
This clip-on microphone is perfect for capturing instruments, especially in live situations where other mics might fail. With its extended frequency response and ability to handle high SPLs, the PRO35 delivers crisp, full-sounding audio.
10. Royer R-121:
Royer Labs R-121 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone, NickelWhat We Like
What We Don't Like
- High sensitivity: The R-121 has sensitivity levels matching or surpassing many of today's dynamic microphones while still retaining the sonic curve of classic ribbon microphones.
- Compact and lightweight: The R-121 has a smaller and lighter design compared to many other ribbon microphones, making it easier to position and handle.
- Versatility: The R-121 is suitable for various applications, including recording guitar amps, percussion, woodwind, acoustic instruments, and vocals.
- High output level: The R-121 has a relatively high output level for a ribbon microphone, which is helpful for recording acoustic instruments.
- Durability: The R-121 is designed to be tough and capable of handling high SPLs, making it suitable for both studio and live environments.
- Proximity effect: The small size of the R-121 can affect the proximity effect, which may require careful positioning and distance management when recording.
- Vocals: When recording multiple singers at once, the R-121 may not provide enough presence unless the singers are within a few inches of the microphone.
- Price: The R-121 is a high-quality microphone, but it may be more expensive than other options on the market.
Rounding off our list is the Royer R-121.
In my time working with the Royer R-121, I've been truly impressed by this ribbon microphone's superb warm, genuine sound and its impeccably balanced frequency response. Whether it's recording a broad array of instruments or capturing vocals, the versatility of the R-121 has been a game changer for me.
A Truly Versatile Performer
From my experience, the R-121 shines in numerous recording situations:
- Guitar Amplifiers: I've found that it captures the full sonic range of guitars exceptionally well, particularly when paired with electric models.
- Horns, Percussion, and Piano: The R-121's warm tonality has consistently been a standout feature when recording these instruments.
- Acoustic Instruments: The R-121's ability to deliver balanced and natural sound when recording acoustic instruments has never ceased to amaze me.
- Vocals: Although it takes some finesse with positioning, the R-121 does an admirable job with vocals.
First-hand User Impressions
The smooth, clear, and clean sound that the R-121 consistently produces has been a constant source of delight for me, regardless of the audio source I'm recording. Having used it extensively in my studio work, I've found it favorably comparable to other classic microphones. I've been especially impressed when using it on electric guitar cabinets, where it delivers a full and sweet sound.
In-depth Look at Features and Specifications
The R-121 houses a 2.5-micron aluminum ribbon, has a figure-8 polar pattern, and offers a frequency response of 30Hz-15kHz. It can handle an impressive maximum SPL of 135dB at 20Hz.
The mic's resilience and ability to handle high SPLs is a testament to the advanced materials and construction techniques used. Additionally, the absence of internal active electronics means it avoids distortion and overload, which has been a huge plus in my sessions.
While it's true that the Royer R-121 carries a price tag that's higher than some alternatives, my personal experience with its versatility, durability, and high-quality sound assures me it's a solid investment for any serious audio recording setup. The R-121 truly delivers a warm, rich sound that's hard to replicate.